Steven English – Pain Pushes Until The Vision Pulls | Conversations with Coaches | Boxer Media

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Conversations with Coaches | Boxer Media

This is a quote from Michael Beckwith that Steve shared on the pod that perfectly encapsulates his own personal journey – as well as the heart of what good coaching is all about.

Throughout his 22 years in engineering, Steven served as a trainer to Fortune 500 organizations as well as influencing and guiding change management activities. Steven is an ICF-certified PCC, a TEDx speaker, and a trained Facilitator. Steven specializes in helping quiet leaders use their voices to create impact.

As a self-identified introvert myself, I was very eager to chat with Steve – and he did not disappoint. We delved into the forces and events that pushed him into coaching (also covered in his TEDx Talk), discussed many of his core principles, and talked about what his coaching practice looks like today.

To learn more about Steven:

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Kevin Stafford 0:02
Hello, everyone and welcome to another episode of the conversations with coaches podcast. I’m your usual host Kevin, today I have been having the pleasure of speaking with Steve in English. Really excited about this one actually, we read his little bio here throughout his 22 years in engineering, Stephen served as a trainer to Fortune 500 organizations, as well as influencing and guiding change management activities. Stephen is an ICF certified PCC, a TEDx speaker, and a trained facilitator. And here’s the part where I lean forward and start paying attention. Stephen specializes in helping quiet leaders to use their voice to create impact. And as a something of a self identified introvert myself, I immediately was drawn to that. And so I’m excited to talk to you today about your coaching journey, how you got here, and everything else. Thanks for being

Steven English 0:48
so great. Excited to be on here? Yeah. Yeah, every time that bio gets read, I’m like, Oh, do I need to shorten it down a little bit.

Kevin Stafford 0:58
It’s just the right length. It’s and you have short sentences to what you think is important or like it, there’s a lot about you in there to unpack. But you get in and get out pretty fast. It takes like 15 seconds to read a little bit about your past and your present, which is good. So I feel like it’s pretty tight.

Steven English 1:14
Cool. Cool. Good to know. Good. Thanks for the feedback.

Kevin Stafford 1:17
Yeah, of course. Let’s, let’s go back to your your superhero origin stories, at least as it pertains to coaching. How did you realize come to the conclusion that you were a coach that you wanted to be coached that you were going to, you know, express this aspect of who you are in such a way to like, start a coaching practice moving to the business, etc? What’s your, what’s your origin story?

Steven English 1:40
Yeah, so I’ll give the top byline the TLDR version of it is a midlife crisis and recovery from alcoholism. You know, I had in my late 30s, early 40s, I started to feel that that malaise in my corporate life, I just, I felt completely out of alignment with 80% of the work that I did. And I’ll talk about that other 20% here in a minute. And as a result, I looked for ways to let that pain go medicate that pain. And what I did was, like many people I drank, and there was a time in 2007, when I went to Korea for five weeks, and I drink every day and came back. And I say it’s kind of akin to pouring gasoline on a pilot light, like I always had the pilot light of alcoholism, and it had flared up. Looking back on my life, I could see like binge drinking episodes and things like that, that told me that I was different when it came to my relationship with alcohol than many other people. But then after that sustained five weeks, I came back, a daily drinker, I started to have all kinds of different challenges up into including, you know, getting a DWI. And there’s a long story there, and I just hashtag watch my TEDx, then I, once I had some recovery, I started to get my feelings back. And so they say, the good part about recovery and sobriety is you get your feelings back. The bad part is you get your feelings back. And what what happened for me is I started to see the times when I felt very much alive doing my job. And those were the times when I was helping people go Good to Great, you know, so I was helping people who were they had a certain level of skill, or they had a certain level of success in the organization, and I was helping them get that much better. And it for me, because I wasn’t a coach formally. in corporate America, I was a trainer. And then I was a leader, I so I had a team of nine people, I had teams of up to 24 people throughout my career. And I started to notice, like, wow, when I’m sitting down, and I’m partnering with them, one on one, to help them with their performance development plan, or their professional development plan, or their or when I’m teaching a class, I really felt very much alive. And so that’s kind of the the start of it, I started to see those times that I was really most alive. And then to translate that over to coaching. I had that realization of like, Hey, I got to do something different. So what I did, like any engineer science research kind of person is I said, okay, here are my options. And it’s actually kind of a very Kochi methodology to is I developed some options and I explored those options and that meant talking to so I, I interviewed for an MBA program, I spoke to one of my heroes, a gentleman named Forrest breyfogle, who wrote a book called implementing Six Sigma because I’m a Six Sigma Black Belt. At this point, I’m probably a Six Sigma Rust Belt. And then I I wrote along with him My uncle who was a consultant in the team facilitation, and strategy, strategic planning space, and then I met with another coach. And after all of that mixed up together, I said, Okay, you know what I’m gonna do, rather than go back and get an MBA that cost me 100 and some odd 1000 I’m gonna go get coaching certification. And so that’s where it all started. I

Kevin Stafford 5:23
love it’s so and I find this to be true. So often how how much a coach often exemplifies every core principle of coaching just in their own personal journey? And how like you started exploring your options, when that time came, when that moment of realization came, which is just asking questions, you know, you don’t come in thinking, you know, the answers are coming trying to prove and preconceived notions are like, okay, what are my options, and let’s explore them. And it’s what coaches do so well for people is do that together. Because that exploration solo, it can be a little intimidating, there’s, it’s kind of a high barrier for entry notes, it’s kind of a lot of friction there to get started, it has a lot of momentum to it once you do get started, which is why people more and more every day are gravitating towards coaching as a way to grow and change and other people they know they want to be, but aren’t quite sure how or I can figure out where to get started. And during that solo journey, and then be able to translate that to this is what I did, I started asking myself important questions, and exploring the answers, finding the ones that worked best that made the most sense. And then going forward, and then continuing in that like, sort of that principle of exploration, you know, let’s see what we can find. And then obviously, taking that to let’s see what we can find together. And that’s obviously it’s just kind of another way of stating leadership. You know, let’s see what we can find. See what we can do together. It’s not really a follow up question there. I just wanted to lay out how perfectly that seems to exemplify coaching.

Steven English 6:49
Well, I’ll say this, that what, what it came down to is compared to, let’s say, most people who get to a point where, let’s say, for example, if I could go back in time, and go to that moment, where I was like, Oh, my God, I hate this corporate environment, I don’t want to do this job anymore. If I had had a coach, I probably could have accelerated all of that and, and maybe even avoided. My second DWI, my my third DWI arrest, I was only convicted of two, so I’m not a felon. And, you know, I’m not proud of that. But I’m just saying, like, I had to suffer through the pain, you know, they say, change happens when the pain is greater than the gain. And I because I didn’t know about coaches. And because I wasn’t in that space of let me find somebody to help me I had to endure all that pain, to finally say, Hey, I’m gonna do it, and to quote another. So that first quote, I think I’ve heard Tony Robbins say it 1000 times. But the other quote that I love is Michael Beckwith said, pain pushes until the vision polls, and I didn’t have enough of a vision yet, but I had so much pain that it was pushing me and said, You got to go create some options here, kiddo and take some action to figure out which of these options works best for you. And

Kevin Stafford 8:05
I’m familiar with Michael Beckwith, but I’m not sure if I’ve come across that phrase before. And that is as lovely. And that’s a very, very succinct summation of exactly what coaching can help you to do, you know, bring, bring the vision a little bit closer, so that the required pain is a little bit less not that, you know, pain avoidance is always the best motivator, but it’s a powerful one. Absolutely. No, no, that’s lovely. I might make that the title of the episode.

Steven English 8:32
Yeah, just make sure we get the attribution to Michael Beckwith because if I see another, another coach Robbins, somebody else’s quotes. Man, I’m not gonna name names. But anyhow,

Kevin Stafford 8:44
it was a strange, strange relationship, almost like the way standup comedians will sometimes step on each other’s best jokes, because it’s like, it’s both sort of admiration. Yeah, like and just accidental copying where it’s just like you’re so inspired by some someone else’s coaching that you’re on coaching and the way you phrase it begins to sort of exemplify it and sometimes almost word for word, repeat it, you’re like, Okay, I gotta be mindful this, I want to be careful not to step I make sure at the very least cite them.

Steven English 9:07
I make sure to always attribute because I don’t know, that’s just the way I am. But yeah, you know, my, my, I came in with these certain values and the certain strengths that really lend themselves very well to coaching. And I remember when I was sitting there at an AIPAC, so I’m AIPAC trained coach, so Institute professional excellence and coaching. I, I was sitting there and after I told my story, somebody came by and they put their hand on my shoulder and they said, you’re going to help a lot of people and because I live in a environment of transformation. So as a recovering, recovered alcoholic, whatever way, there’s people who split those hairs, but as a person who’s been in the recovery circles, I live in an environment of transformation. I see people coming in to recovery where you know, they just got out of jail or they just You know, their, their wife has left them or, you know, whatever’s happened some big tragedy and then they’ve turned their life around. So I know what’s possible for people. Let’s talk about

Kevin Stafford 10:12
today, we’ve talked about a lot a lot about your journey in the past. And quite frankly, I can, I can spend so much time talking about this kind of like high level, but still really deep down in the weeds and the heart kind of stuff. This is this is this for me, for me. And I think for a lot of people, the real sweet spot of coaching and just how transformational it can be. But let’s talk a little bit nuts and bolts. Let’s talk about your coaching practice today. And I’ve been I kind of noodle with how to phrase this question here and there. And I really like who do you coach? And how do you coach them? It’s almost like I’m grilling you in the in the interrogation room or something. But yeah, who do you coach as in like, Who do you focus on I know, coaching tends to apply pretty broadly. But most coaches tend to focus at least their primary efforts on a certain niche or a certain either type of person or person in a certain position. And then how do you usually go about coaching them? Or what aspect of your coaching are you most drawn to or passionate about the one to one, which is a lot of people, you know, obviously get their start with a one to one, but do you do any group coaching or masterminds or anything like that? You obviously you do keynote speeches because you have your TEDx talk, which is fantastic. So yeah, who do you coach? And how do you coach them?

Steven English 11:10
Yeah. So to answer that, when I started out, I thought about working with midlife men, because I wanted to coach who I was at that time. And then I started to look at there’s there are these folks in the world and I vacillate between an eye and an E, I’ve taken Myers Briggs and the Big Five and all the different personality tests, and I, I recharge like an introvert, but I have certain abilities that are normally, let’s say, characteristic of extroverts, meaning I’m good at walking into a room and talking to people that are strangers. And now I’m not saying at all that there aren’t introverts that do that. But it’s, I am able, or I was able to do that. And I had to that was part of my personal journey, I was not able to do it until I was around 25. And that’s because I lacked a lot of self confidence. I was 311 pounds in high school. And so I had a lot of self esteem and self confidence issues. So I found that I gravitated to this idea of helping introverts and here’s what it comes down to is in, in the types of waste in the world. So the people who are Lean Six Sigma experts will know the acronym Tim wood. Well, the last, the eighth type of waste is skills. And I firmly, firmly believe that because of the types of challenges that introverts have, they’re not bringing out all of their skill, all of their capability to the world because of communication challenges. And so that’s why I created this tagline, if you will, right, helping quiet leaders use their voice to create impact. So there’s a couple of things in there. So one, I sometimes back away from using the term introvert versus quiet. Like, I kind of wordsmith that a little bit, but I’ll ultimately Yes, I do work with a lot of introvert. And then I say, leaders, because I want to help executives, because I want to have that multiplied effect, right? Like, I know that if I help this leader, this person is the force multiplier, right? So this person in this in this organization, they’re the VP or a C suite, or something to that effect, that is going to ripple effect across the organization. And also, quite frankly, is you and I both know, in the coaching world. Look, that’s where the people who are generally more willing to invest bigger for one on one. Okay, so that’s the answers the second part of your question, how do I coach? Most of my clients are one on one. I do. And I have done some groups in the past. I’m slowly migrating over toward that I, I haven’t gone completely. I haven’t leaped completely into it. Although I have had some thoughts about creating more, let’s say, custom not customize it, because that’s actually most of my coaching is more bespoke, you know, meeting that because it’s one on one, right? Like, I’m really meeting that person where they’re at, but more of, okay, here’s six challenges that most introverts face, let’s coach around that. So having more like a coaching program that I could deploy in a group fashion. So yeah, that’s kind of where I’m at right now. So I do mostly one on one, helping quiet leaders and mostly improving communication so that they can improve relationships, their career, whatever.

Kevin Stafford 14:45
That’s always a really tough nut to crack in a coaching business is maintaining that impact of the one to one like the depth that you can go to that the change you can affect the transformation, expanding that and scaling that without compromising its potency. But it’s such a tricky challenge. And that’s the identified two really strong paths to do that. By coaching leaders, you have that force multiplier, that radiating effect, because everybody that they lead, they pass your lessons trickle down, so to speak to them in ways that both foreseen and unforeseen, that raise the tide for everyone else. That’s one way to scale your efforts and your effect and your your purpose. And then also trying to find like frameworks that at least capture the right kinds of questions that are close enough to common for everybody where it gives you a good foundation. And then things get more bespoke, and more personalized, and more individualized from there. And that’s another way, like core courses is another way where you have a course where you have like something you know, you know, six, six classes on the six, you know, attributes of introverts most you know, that, that leaders struggle with or whatever happens, whatever the name of it might be, and you break it down. And then you have a course.

Steven English 15:52
By the way, I do have a course it’s just sitting there on teachable, I haven’t I haven’t launched it, I haven’t sold it. I’ve, I’ve talked to a couple of different people of ads and funnels, and it’s kind of one of those things of oh, do I really want to invest that much money to make this much on a per unit cost? And but ya know, I’m exploring all of these, I think, I think one thing that’s kind of unique about me is that I, I am willing to fail fast and fail often, right? I’m, I’m totally happy to let me go over here, try this out. Let me go over here, try this out. Because I don’t, I don’t know I don’t really have a huge fear of making a mistake, because I don’t feel that anything really is a mistake. It’s always a learning opportunity.

Kevin Stafford 16:35
Absolutely, that’s something, I think I’ve spent spending a good chunk of my adult life rewiring that circuitry in my brain, to just to take that that intellectual understanding of how mistakes quote unquote, are often the best teachers are such a resource, if they shouldn’t be so positively identified in my brain and in my heart, and yet, there’s so much negative baggage attached to not just making a mistake, but being seen to make a mistake in some way that’s mostly imaginary. Like who’s watching me that closely other than myself? So is it me that’s holding my holding myself to the fire for these mistakes that are actually helping me to learn all this? All this circuitry that needed some work that I’ve, you know, feel like it’s a mission of my adult life?

Steven English 17:17
Oh, absolutely. And we’re, I mean, I’m a work in progress as well, it’s, you know, I’m not 100% decoupled from the, the meaning that I allow failure to have and, but yes, absolutely. 100%. And it’s just about having better mistakes, like, you know, like, like improving the mistakes that you miss. Like not doing the same damn thing you did before.

Kevin Stafford 17:44
That’s a it’s something else sometimes say to myself, or my team is like, Let’s mess that up better next time.

Steven English 17:50

Kevin Stafford 17:51
Well, shoot, I really want to just keep talking with you. But I’ve just, I just popped over at the time. And I’m like, Oh, we’re already coming up. We’re already like, kind of blowing past our limit. Before I let you go, I want to give you a chance to let the audience know. It’s another kind of two part question where people can find out more about you just, you know, obviously social media profiles website, yada, yada, yada. But also, and this might be the same where you like to connect with people. Do you offering like free strategy sessions? Do you like to like, Are you active on LinkedIn? DMing people left and right and center. So yeah, where? Where can people find out more about you? And where can people best connect with you?

Steven English 18:26
Yeah, great. Actually, you get you gave the answer right there. So I have a website, www Steven English dotnet. As soon as you get to it, there’s a free workbook that I’ll send to you. So that’s one way, I’ll send you a confidence, basically self confidence workbook to help you start on improving your self confidence. By no means is it a magic bullet. As we both know, confidence is something that is built up. It’s not something we just get. And then yeah, LinkedIn is really my jam. I have a Facebook page. It’s mostly personal. I do I have it opened up. But I don’t. I don’t post there. Consistently. I post consistently on LinkedIn. And yes, there is on my profile, there is a button at the top for a 15 minute virtual coffee. So if for some reason somebody listens to this and says, Hey, I’d really love to talk chat with this guy. Then there you go. So those are those are the best ways to get a hold of me.

Kevin Stafford 19:24
Perfect. All right. Well, thank you so much for chatting with me. I kind of, as I say, kind of I’m already like in my head working on ways to like when when is it too soon to ask you back for a part two to continue the conversation because there’s so many there were so many jumping off points there that I was like, feel like I could spend another 30 minutes hour on each time. So I might I might, I might pester you in a month or so and just checking on you. It’s like so how’s it going? I want to come back on so for that?

Steven English 19:50
Yeah, absolutely. Yeah, I love I love going on podcasts. I’ve even flirted with the idea of having my own.

Kevin Stafford 19:56
It’s kind of a I’ll speak in different ways. So I haven’t I haven’t always torn about it because on the one hand, I love it. I’ve loved it. I’ve been doing this one for like, almost a year and a half now. And I had some trepidation about it at the beginning, that trepidation just got stomped immediately by how just positive the entire experiences, both from a personal and professional standpoint, like you could see, we get so much out of so little. It’s almost a no brainer of like, a time investment. But then there’s also the other voice in my head is like, well, doesn’t everybody already have a podcast? And aren’t there millions of podcasts just like lying on the dustbin of Apple podcasts or Spotify or whatever. And that voice needs to just pipe down. At the very least at the very minimum podcasts like this aren’t excuse to talk to interesting people about important subjects. Yeah. Yeah, that’s the floor. So yeah. If you ever need encouragement, I will upgrade you to have a podcast. I will reach

Steven English 20:53
out to you, Kevin, I appreciate it. Thank you so much.

Kevin Stafford 20:57
Thank you for all those events too. And, and thank you to the audience for listening. I hope you’re enjoying this podcast. And in the name of keeping it short and sweet. We will talk to you again soon.

Steven English 21:07
Sounds great.

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